For an artist who has yet to release a full album, Kyla La Grange has certainly managed to make her mark on the music scene. Her name has been ringing out across internet and radio, with her recent single Vampire Smile being posted on pretty much every blog from here to Azerbaijan.
Kyla grew up in Watford, Hertfordshire and has been writing songs since the age of five. However, it was not until one of her friends introduced her to the music of Elliott Smith and Cat Power while she was studying Philosophy at Cambridge University that she felt inspired to pursue her talents: “They were unlike anything I’d heard. A lot of the music I’d listened to as a teenager was quite shit and always tempered by a need to be a certain style, or sell records. What I loved about them is just how raw and honest the emotions seemed.” Struck by their raw emotional intensity, Kyla wrote a handful of songs and took to the open mic night circuit in Cambridge.
While Kyla is influenced by the stripped to the bone emotional content of the aforementioned artists, her music is a far cry from their pared down musical style. Kyla La Grange doesn’t do things by half measures. She has an ear for the dramatic and her songs are rousing anthems with waves of instrumentation the size of full-scale tsunamis, aiming to sweep you away upon the first listen. And then, there is the voice. Kyla’s voice possesses a curious, attention grabbing duality where she sounds both delicate and on the verge of breaking down, as well as sounding bold and undeniably confident. There is a sense that, no matter how beaten she may be, she will say what she needs to say. Her vocals range from soft and husky to wailing and operatic, as is easy to hear on her debut offering Walk Through Walls. When asked about her vocals she simply stated, “I think if you get into the emotion of something enough then it just comes out of you.”
Kyla’s songs are dark and passionate, often concerned with the fine line between intense love and dangerous obsession. For instance, Vampire Smile is an eerie and infectiously catchy murder fantasy about being “crazily obsessed with somebody, who I didn’t tell anyone about,” which features the lyrics “I’m going to get so drunk on you and kill your friends / Then you’ll need me and we can be obsessed” (We’ve all been there, right?). There are flourishes of Kate Bush while her caustically raw and gothic lyrics have shades of the aforementioned Elliott Smith and Nick Cave. At their heart, Kyla’s songs are all about unflinching emotional honesty: “Writing songs was something I always did because I felt like it was the only way I could release all the noise and cluttered emotions inside my head. It was, and is, an escape. It’s a place where I can be alone and immerse myself in emotions that I don’t really know how to handle in real life.”
From her humble beginnings as a shy musician where she confesses, “I’d be really self-contained, just be looking at the floor, in my own mind,” Kyla has gone on to gain a reputation as a captivating performer. Now backed by a full band, Kyla’s performances are known for her energetic stage presence and the otherworldly regalia that adorn the stage, from branches to pigeon feather tiaras. With her debut album Ashes to be released at the end of July and followed by a tour of the festival circuit, Kyla La Grange looks set to take this summer by storm. Watch this space.
To listen to Walk Through Walls on Soundcloud click here.
Ashes will be released through ioki Records/Sony on 30th July.